Lakes at historically low levels, unusually early forest fires, water use restrictions և now a potentially record heat wave. Even before the start of summer, the US West is suffering from a chronic drought that has been exacerbated by climate change.
Eighty-eight percent of the West, according to official figures, was hit by drought this week, including California, Oregon, Utah and Nevada.
Under a particularly strong symptom of this trend, which affects more than 143 million Americans, Lake Mead, the largest reservoir on the Nevada-Arizona border, is now at its lowest level since its inception in the 1930s.
The lake, which formed the huge Hoover Dam on the other side of the Colorado River not far from Las Vegas, is only 36 percent of its capacity, even lower than the 2016 record.
Authorities expected this, but not only in August.
The situation is no better in Northern California, which usually has heavy rainfall in winter and spring. Lake Oroville, the state’s second-largest reservoir, is part of the և 27 million Californian drinking water supply network, 50 meters lower than in 2019.
Widespread restrictions on its use seem inevitable in the coming months. For Western countries, especially for farmers dependent on irrigation, who can provide serious fruits and vegetables, there are potentially serious consequences.
In California, where fragrant parks supply 80 percent of the world’s produce, some farmers have already begun uprooting trees to save water.
As of April 1, the area’s last traditional snow date, the snow pack on the upper slopes of the Sierra Nevada, which is about one-third of the water used in California, averaged just 60 percent.
“The only thing that’s unique this year is that when the snow melted, the floodwaters fell into dry ground and ended up evaporating,” California Department of Water Resources official John von Yarbrow told AFP, never reaching Lake Oroville. news agency:
“So this is what was unusual about this year, how little we got out of that snow bag.”
According to the US Drought Monitor, one-third of California is currently experiencing “exceptional drought” – the worst level.
And dry soils ված dehydrated vegetation create conditions for even higher temperatures, feeding the destructive vicious circle.
Meteorologists have issued thermal warnings, saying that Las Vegas, for example, could hit 115 Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius), surpassing the 1940 record.
Authorities are particularly concerned about the forest fires, which reached an unusual intensity earlier this year. By the end of May, wildfires in California had destroyed five times as much vegetation as last year.